March 13, 2020, the last time every student and faculty member was together under the roof of Camas High School (CHS). The day was cut short with an announcement declaring an extra two weeks had been added to spring break. Over 500 days later, Camas students are once again joined all together to continue their high school education. After such a long isolation period, many students are coming back into the building for the first time since early 2020, while others are coming back for the first time with all the students, not in cohorts, like last year.
CHS Senior, Brain Hoff said, “It’s been a little weird since I haven’t been back since March 2020 but it’s been good to get back in person. It’s also been a lot easier communicating with teachers and asking questions about things.” A major issue that was prevalent throughout the era of Zoom learning is now seemingly patched up. In the original schedule of online learning, students only had the opportunity to see their teachers in two short periods throughout the entire 5 day school week, making student-teacher communication very difficult and uninviting.
Many more students experienced similar feelings getting back to school. CHS Senior, Melodie Chiu said, “class was so much fun, I enjoyed all of my teachers, however, the transition back into being in person all day was rough after being online for almost two years.”
The transition from being at home throughout the school day, having significantly shorter periods, and longer breaks between classes make the return back to normalcy all the more jolting for everyone.
CHS Junior, Grace Sommers, said “The first week of school for me was really good! I think it was surprisingly draining because there were so many people. It was like a sea of fish.” Hundreds of students now journey to their next class together, packing a previously barren hallway nearly to the brim.
“My classes were good, it did feel more normal than last year. I felt like I was actually learning since the classes were long enough,” Grace added.
The opportunity to spend downtime in class socializing instead of turning off Zoom also impacted the student body’s first week of school. CHS Senior, Anisa Akhtarkavari said, “I liked being back in person to learn. It was so refreshing to socialize again and to not be stuck behind a Zoom screen all day long.” Anisa added, “so far my discussion-based classes are a lot more interesting in person.”
The first three days were described as great, and good by other CHS students, such as CHS Senior Lily Walsh who added, “[It was] really great! I am so happy to see all my classmates and teachers in person.”
Similarly, CHS Sophomore Sherman Bynum stated, “It was really good! A bit confusing at first to find my classes, but otherwise good.”
After struggling through the mechanics of Zoom calls and the structure of a polite email to a teacher, students can now sling their textbooks up and down the CHS stairs and share the same room with their peers and teacher and see familiar faces in the halls all day. So finally, after over a year of incredibly unfamiliar traditions and difficult transitions, students can enjoy a well-deserved step on the path to normalcy after the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything.
Rosalind Hinchliff and Blake Harris contributed to this article.